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The Sheer Joy In Not Being Graded

November 4, 2011

This past week has been a whirlwind week – I have met so many amazing minds that it all just seems so surreal to me. The trip’s been an absolute blast, and my mind’s been blown more times than I can remember in the last six days.

One of the most refreshing things on this trip for me has been the fact that we were not being graded. We didn’t get brownie points with our speakers if we asked them convoluted, meandering questions that were long in length but short on substance. We weren’t afraid to ask harsh, frank questions since we didn’t have the fear that the “professor” might take them as a personal affront. We didn’t fall over each other trying to appease the speakers.

Instead, we had very healthy, positive, collaborative discussions. No one spoke for longer than what they needed to to get their point across. No one tried to one-up another student in a discussion. No one tried to chip in in every session just for the sake of chipping in and checking that box in the preceptor’s mind.

One of the biggest flaws of an education at Princeton is that everything is hyper-competitive, and everything one does, one does for a grade. And it’s just extremely refreshing when one can partake in something without worrying about being judged/graded – it gives one a sense of freedom, and just sheer joy, really.

The last time I had this feeling was when I started taking a recreational, hip-hop class at Princeton (which of course I had to drop because of my workload). I wish there were some way to incorporate something – perhaps a new incentive structure – into some part of  the system in which we didn’t do things to get A-grades in them, but did them just because we wanted to, or just because doing those things was pure, uninhibited fun.

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